Taking a break

I never took a day off in my twenties. Not one. – Bill Gates

It's easy as a founder to think that working your socks off every single day continuously for years is the quickest route to success.

I used to firmly believe working hard and working fast, avoiding breaks, would get us further faster. It's only after many years in this world that I've come to the realisation that a break – even a short one – is needed frequently to continue to perform at your best.

This doesn't just apply to startup founders of course – anyone in any job needs regular breaks, but it seems the world of startups is particularly focused on working your ass off until you make it big time. Hearing of the success stories like Musk and Zuck and countless others reinforces the feeling that if you're not "working" you're wasting your time.

I just took a week out to stay in Cornwall (south west England, it's a beautiful place if you haven't been). I had poor phone reception, unreliable wifi access, and ~300 miles separating me from GoSquared. It's not natural for me to be as disconnected from the business.

You know how when you've had your computer on for weeks and haven't switched it off? And you have 30 tabs open in your browser, and you've left 5 files open in 3 different apps? Your computer starts getting a little sluggish. Sometimes you just need to hit reboot, maybe install an update or two, and get back to full speed. That's exactly how taking a break this last week has felt – it's been like flushing my RAM. And I feel a hundred times better because of it.

There's nothing like a few days out of the office, away from an internet connection, and away from your normal surroundings to clear your head.

When was the last time you took a break? Don't feel guilty if you feel like you need a few days off – you've earned it, and you owe it to your team to take it.

James Gill

CEO and co-founder of GoSquared.

London, UK